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PREPARING THE BOY FOR INDUSTRY
LOUIS L. PARK, SUPERINTENDENT OF WELFARE, AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE
COMPANY, SCHENECTADY, N.Y. If the boy who is to enter industry is to be prepared for life, much will depend upon how he is prepared for industry, and the extent to which our schools prepare the boy for industry will in many cases mark the extent of their influence in shaping him for life in a democracy. If he is to emerge in later life a useful citizen, it will be by the way of industry, and the tone which his influence is to give to the affairs of his community will be colored to no small extent by his contact with industrial life.
How then may our schools help prepare the boy for industry? How may they help him to acquire a competency and live a normal life? How assist him to withstand the temptation to misuse the freedom and the enlarging opportunity of industrial employment? How plant firmly within him the ideals which will help him to develop into a useful citizen rather than into a self-centered, money-getting artisan? While we shall not attempt a full discussion of this question, we wish to comment upon certain of its phases.
So varied are the demands of industry, so many the degrees of opportunity offered, and so different the provisions made for training after employment, that no simple rule for vocational training of boys for industry can be suggested. The needs of each locality will naturally govern to some extent the vocational training advisable, and the preparations which the employer makes will modify those needed in the school for the training of the future worker. Still further, there is the problem of adjusting the individual to his proper task, of finding the work which will afford development and provide income to the satisfaction of the worker. These variables must be met by a program sufficiently flexible to insure justice to the greatest possible number.
As vocational guidance becomes more practical in the years of school activity, the more effective may become the vocational training possible to the boy, and the more certainly may the variety of experience be made to contribute to his final work.
But whatever may be the extent of trade or vocational training before the boy enters the shop or mill, there are certain mental traits which, if he has acquired them, will help toward successful progress in industry. The state of mind is, after all, one of the great things desired, the attitude of the boy toward his future work. His conception of the scope of his school training, his ability to adjust himself to his work, his reaction under discipline, his sense of the relation of quality and quantity, and his attitude toward compensation will have much to do with his progress toward efficiency. The extent to which the school may help in shaping his attitude toward these is problematical, but whatever it may be able to accomplish in this direction will be desirable.
The problem of discipline is one of both school and shop, tho differing of course in details and application. Unfortunately discipline in industry is not always handled wisely or effectively and is frequently the cause of changes in the place of a boy's employment. It is likely to be the case, however, that boys who in school have learned to respect authority will in industry be least disturbed by the exercise of authority by a department or gang leader.
"Production" is the big word in most industrial establishments. However promising a boy may be, the world and his employer will not long be satisfied with promises; he must produce the goods. The shop was called into being to produce needed commodities, and it must fulfil its mission efficiently or die. Whatever else the boy may be or do, or may not do or be, he must produce his expected share of the shop's grist. It is "output" or "put out.” The proper balance between "quality" and "quantity” is the secret of success in industrial production. The great demand is for those who can coordinate carefulness and speed, and their number must continue to increase. Both traits can be developt in some degree by training. One naturally expects our schools to teach accuracy rather than speed, but if quick thinking can be stimulated in school work it will pave the way for the final development of the future skilled producer.
We believe that most schools have a direct moral influence which is of the greatest value in steadying the lives of growing youth. Where home and other agencies cooperate with the school in moral training the results are encouraging, but when the school operates alone the task is a trying one. Within the ranks of industry will be found some of the finest people the world has produced, men and women of high ideals and of excellent influence. But industry as a whole has not as definite a moral caliber as we might wish; its detailed influence may be for good or for evil; its habit-changing and habit-forming power will sometimes be for the worse as well as for the better. The substituting of this environment for that of the public schools may well give us concern as to the effect upon the morals of the young people entering industry, particularly when home influence is not strong. From eight to ten hours a day in the shop and mill will count strongly in helping or hindering the developing of manhood.
Just how the school may assist in the solving of this problem may not be clearly seen, but two things are evident: the longer the time allowed the student under school influence and the older the boy before he enters industry, the more strongly will he be establisht in his ways; and the more direct and powerful the influence for high ideals within the school, the better the preparation for the later temptations. It may also be that the overlapping of the two environments for a time, as in some cooperative schemes, may help to prevent a letting down of moral standards during the most trying days of readjustment and assist in maintaining the moral inertia needed to carry the boy thru.
Since the problem of preparation deals with an endless variety of student abilities and tendencies, it is evident that individual instruction in school will count effectively to whatever extent it is permissible, for that preparation alone can be effective which takes into account the needs of the individual student. Thoroness in a smaller number of subjects will outweigh a more pretentious program hurried thru. It is not so much the extent of his knowledge as it is his ability to apply what he has studied that measures the value of his training.
We believe that the present increase in cooperation between school and employer is a most helpful indication of future progress, for this mutual interest will accomplish needed improvement. As the school sees more clearly the demands of the future upon the boy, as the employer appreciates more fully his responsibilities in the worker's welfare, we may expect the boy to realize more fully that progress in industry will depend upon development and not upon good luck or friendly influence. This mutual understanding will make most effective the preparation of the boy for industry, and thru industry for life.
EDUCATION IS PREPARATION FOR LIFE
ARTHUR E. HOLDER, MEMBER, FEDERAL BOARD FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION,
WASHINGTON, D.C. Education is preparation for life. Primarily it is maintenance of life. It is necessary to a continuation of life. When education in the life of an individual, a group, or a nation stops, then decay commences, and dissolution and death are a natural result.
Education as a preparation for life should primarily aim to give every individual proper control over his physical and mental powers. Then he should be taught and inspired how to use these powers to the best advantage for himself and for society.
The problems which will face us in the future will test the ability of our citizens even if they are all equipt with the best education our schools can afford. Within our Republic every individual should possess the rudiments of an education upon which he can train himself to a higher education, if for any cause he has been denied other opportunities.
In our moments of impatience we are prone to criticize our schools altogether too harshly. If we must criticize, let us be sure of our ground; if we refuse to bear our responsibilities as a people and must level our satire at a group, then let us hit the bull's-eye and place the principal blame for the defects in our educational system upon that group in society which is primarily responsible for the creation of our free schools and our publicschool system. That group is the labor group.
Labor created the institution and fostered and protected it in many struggles. Labor has created public sentiment in behalf of compulsoryeducation laws, free textbooks, and vocational education, but, notwithstanding these activities, labor has neglected the personal touch and the neighborly acquaintance which should be maintained with the teachers, so that the teachers themselves can continue their education and develop the fund of new knowledge necessary for the preparation and maintenance of the life of their pupils.
Laborers, teachers, and employers should get together and work for the common good. Sometimes we blindly boast of our schools, public and private, of our richly endowed colleges and state universities. But we have not yet become properly enthused with the functions of either, neither have we yet reacht what the French call “the grand passion for education," and we never shall until we collectively come to the point where all the normal boys and girls under the age of eighteen in our land will be compulsorily kept in contact with the school and properly trained for the preparation for life that will be most suitable to their capacity and disposition.
On March 20 of this year our wonderfully gifted Chief Magistrate was credited with expressing, in his most convincing and scholarly style, a timely warning and inspiring exhortation.
In a letter to his New Jersey friends, he wrote:
A time of grave crises has come in our lives. .... Every sign of these terrible days of war and revolutionary change, when economic and social forces are being releast upon the world whose effect no political seer dare venture to conjecture, bids us search our hearts thru and thru and make them ready for the birth of a new day-a day, we hope and believe, of greater opportunity and greater prosperity for the average mass of struggling men and women-of greater safety and opportunity for our children. .
The men in the trenches who have been freed from economic serfdom to which some of them had been accustomed will, it is likely, return to their homes with a new view and a new impatience of all mere political phrases and will demand real thinking and sincere action.
I venture to say that search as we might thru the pages of ancient or contemporaneous history, we would never find any leader of men uttering such a clarion call to heed the signs of a new time, a new freedom, and a new world.
If we heed the lesson as we should, we shall commence to overhaul our whole system of education, commencing with the homes and the schools. We shall save and improve old ideals that are proved to be worth while; we shall rebuild and readjust our educational machinery; we shall remove unnecessary and un-American restraints; we shall learn the difference between economy and stinginess; we shall generalize before we specialize; we shall be affirmative, positive, aggressive, and generous rather than cautious, timid, docile, and negative.
Our homes, schools, shops, stores, factories, will become educational centers of greater value than ever before. Real, practical, valuable education, fitting each person for a greater enjoyment of life and a greater participation in public affairs, will be the rule rather than the exception.
Manual toil will be given equal credit with brain labor. The hard, laborious task is entitled to equal consideration with the pleasant berths of physical ease.
Every active element of society will participate with educators in the administration of all our schools, especially in the elementary, secondary, and high-school grades. Freer thought and freer expression will be the outcome. These functions are the very essence of democracy.
More school revenue must be forthcoming. All our educational work must be under public auspices and at public expense. When the public knows the advantages for better preparation and maintenance of life thru better and broader education, the public will open its pockets and generously provide the wherewithal. Our public schools constitute one of the greatest public investments. Several hundred millions are invested in buildings alone. These buildings should be used more generally for adult and community education and welfare.
Once this step is taken, the public will realize that our school teachers are being mistreated, and that their wages are wholly insufficient. School teachers deserve a raise in wages, a good substantial raise--more than a 100 per cent raise in many localities. The minimum wage base which has been popularized by trade-unionists and has been so effective in protecting the interests of our skilled and unskilled manual toilers should be intelligently applied to the method of paying teachers' wages or salaries.
Nothing less than $1200 per year will be adequate or just as a minimum rate for our teachers. It can never be secured by teachers, as units, or by individual effort; they must learn how to organize and protect their trade, occupational, or professional interests like other people. Then they must demand a voice in the management of the schools of their community, so that they can more generously contribute from their knowledge and experience for the benefit of the schools. In addition they should study the methods of other elements in society by association and federation. The right so to organize and federate must be held inviolate for school teachers as well as for doctors, lawyers, mechanics, and laborers. When these new activities are establisht success will follow, and long-deferred justice will be won for our teachers.
So far as it goes, our educational system is all right, but it does not go far enough or deep enough. It is still a long distance from simon-pure democracy and will be until we realize that education is not expected or intended to be a luxury in which a superior child, or an exceptional child, or a well-to-do child may bask. Our future bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, and blacksmiths need as much care and as much preparation for life as do our future doctors, lawyers, preachers, and teachers.
This great bread-and-butter question, politely called the economic problem, is the impelling force that will drive us to a new brand of democracy which will be safe for us and safe for the world, a democracy which means not only universal liberty, but universal organization that will guarantee equal opportunities and equal justice to all.